Long Ridge’s Andrew Cedar: Customers ‘don’t want to be bothered at the wrong time’

The PE firm is betting on cloud-based contact center software with the recent purchase of Acqueon.

The complexity and compliance burden that companies face in consumer engagement, alongside the ongoing migration to cloud-based software, is opening up opportunities for Long Ridge Equity Partners, a New York-based private equity firm that invests in the financial technology and business technology sectors.

In October, Long Ridge took a majority stake in Acqueon, a Dallas-based provider of omni-channel customer engagement software. Existing investor Everstone Capital retained a minority equity stake.

With more than 200 customers and 110,000 agents, Acqueon helps orchestrate outbound, omni-channel campaigns across voice, messaging and email channels for companies in the financial services and banking, healthcare, retail and distribution as well as the public sector.

Acqueon’s suite of services is used to increase sales, implement proactive services, improve collections and establish deep consumer loyalty.

“The world has evolved in terms of how people want to be communicated with, and the enterprise tech stack has not caught up with that,” Andrew Cedar, principal at Long Ridge, told PE Hub. “That is true across a very broad range of sectors and industries, and we believe the company is well-positioned to drive that and to enable organizations that want to evolve in that way.”

Long Ridge has been looking into contact centers for some time and has been keenly following Acqueon for about two years. The target’s performance impressed the firm.

Creating an omni-channel system of customer engagement is key to the success of businesses, Cedar explained. Siloed systems, such as data platforms and customer relationship management (CRM), often do not “talk” to each other, a situation that undermines the customer engagement goal.

Andrew Cedar, Long Ridge Equity Partners

“There is a generational upgrade cycle going on from on-premise, legacy contact center solutions to cloud-based call center systems that are driven by software, which are much more intelligent and automated and more flexible that they can play across a complicated technology stack inside companies,” Cedar said.

Understanding customer preferences is paramount. “Consumers are much more discerning now,” he explained. “They don’t want to be bothered at the wrong time. They want to have the companies they choose to do business with fit into their lives, versus the opposite.”

Compliance issues under customer engagement have been pinch points for companies, Cedar said.

Privacy regulations and other protective measures, particularly in highly regulated industries, have grown. Acqueon helps clients draw up their outbound dialogue.

“There is actually a massive growing compliance burden,” he said. “You cannot just willy-nilly call up your customers whenever you want.”

Cedar sees growth ahead both from scaling the sales and marketing departments to capture opportunities that the PE firm has identified and by looking for opportunistic M&A.

Is Acqueon poised to withstand macroeconomic challenges, such as a recession? Cedar said services like reminding people about upcoming doctor’s appointments or bill payments will continue to be useful, despite the state of the economy.

“We actually see a good deal of opportunity, whether the economy does turn south or it doesn’t,” said Cedar.